Over 10 gunmen, yesterday, stormed some banks in Agbara area of Ogun State, killing a mobile policeman attached to one of the banks. About 12 persons, including a pregnant woman, were reportedly hit by stray bullets from the rampaging robbers, while several others sustained varying degrees of injury in the ensuing stampede.
The gunmen, suspected to be militants, who attacked some banks in Festac area of Lagos last month, killing a mother of two and two other banks earlier at Ikorodu and Lekki areas of Lagos, were reportedly clad in military camouflage, with black bands tied around their heads.
They were said to have stormed Bank Road, where about nine banks are located, at about 8 am in two vehicles, a Toyota Sienna and Camry, announcing their presence with sporadic gunshots which sent residents and passers-by scampering for safety.
They reportedly denoted a dynamite in front of one of the first generation banks as two policemen who attempted to repel the attack were shot. While one of them, Corporal Kadiri, was said to have died on the spot, while doctors at an undisclosed hospital battled to save the life of the other cop who was shot in the right rib.
Eyewitnesses said four of the gunmen entered the first generation bank, collected the guns from the policemen that were shot and used the guns to shatter the Automated Teller Machines in the bank’s premises.
The eyewitnesses said the robbers proceeded into the banking hall where they ordered everyone to lie down and demanded for the bank’s manager with the vault’s key. It could not, however, be ascertained if they penetrated the vault.
It was learned that other members of the gang outside the bank positioned themselves strategically to ward off intruders, firing non-stop.
In the process, stray bullets reportedly hit passers-by, including an unidentified pregnant woman who was clad in black trousers and a multicoloured shirt. It was like a theatre of war
An eyewitness who gave his name as Musibau Kazeem, recounted: “The whole place was like a theatre of war, they were over 15 in number. They came on motorcycles and in two cars. They came with explosives, firing indiscriminately.“I hid under a vehicle that parked during the shooting. Their mission was to enter all the banks but they only succeeded in entering one. Those who went inside came out with wads of Naira notes which they put inside one of their vehicles. “One of them, suspected to be the leader, was masked. Immediately he came out of the bank, he signalled his colleagues to leave the scene. By then, the Armoured Personnel Carrier stationed at Agbara was firing some shots. But they were not deterred by the presence of the APC as they fired sporadically at it, aiming at the tyres. “Before leaving the scene, they blew up one of their operational vehicles. They used the fire from the vehicle as a shield to leave the place in their other car. We saw two of them carrying two of their colleagues who were shot inside the car as they were leaving. “But we noticed that by then, the number of gunmen was limited. They snatched a vehicle from a motorist who was taking his children to school at Ilase area of Agbara, in which they left the scene. “But the ones I saw left the scene in the second vehicle which we heard was abandoned half way. They went through the water heading towards Totowu, while those hit by stray bullets were rushed to a private hospital at Agbara by policemen.”
Owner of the vehicle that was snatched (names withheld), who was still in shock, said: “I was taking my children to school when some guys stopped me at Ilase. They pointed a gun at me and asked me to step out of my car. I had to obey them because they were with a gun. I thought they were soldiers. “We’ve never seen a thing like this
Another eyewitness, who gave her name simply as Mama Chionye said nobody knew they were armed robbers.
She said: “When they were driving to the scene, we all concluded they were soldiers. They drove recklessly and even hit a tricycle who was on the way. On their way back from the scene, they stopped by Agbara market and started firing, causing traders to run in different directions. “A woman was even among them. Four women were hit by stray bullets, we have never seen a thing like this.“
Describing the robbery attack as an incident that took the entire residents unaware, residents of Agbara estate issued a statement yesterday, disclosing that the robbery was the first of its kind in the 37 years history of the estate.
The statement read: “At about 7am on November 19, 2015, there was an organised armed robbery on Agbara Estate, the first of its kind in the estate’s 37-year history. “Agbara Estate is carrying out an immediate review of its security operations and is collaborating with the local authorities and police force to prevent any such incident happening again on the Estate.”
Spokesperson for Ogun State Police Command, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, disclosed that the robbers came in through Badagry-Ilasha road.
He said: “Their intention was to raid all the banks on that road. But we gave them a hot fight. They were only able to enter one of the banks. Only one policeman, who tried to repel them, was felled by the bullets. “No arrest has been made for now but some of them escaped with bullet wounds. They launched an attack on our APC but we were able to force them to flee the scene. They used dynamite to blow up one of their operational vehicles before leaving the scene while we recovered the second one. “We, hereby, appeal to members of the public, especially hospital staff and traditional healing homes, to avail us with information on patients with bullets wounds. We are also assuring the people of Agbara in particular and Ogun State in general that more policemen have been deployed to ensure their safety, particularly as we approach the Yuletide.”
Meanwhile, a woman who had gone to one of the second generation banks in Festac Town, Amuwo Odofin area of Lagos was, yesterday, attacked by gunmen who dispossessed her of the undisclosed amount withdrawn from the bank. The gunmen, who apparently trailed her from the bank located on 23 Road, pointed a gun at her, threatening to shoot if she made any noise.
Unconfirmed report had it that a policeman who accosted the robbers was shot. Contacted, Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Mr Joe Offor, said it was not a case of bank robbery as earlier claimed. He could, however, not give details but assured that the command was doing all within its powers to checkmate criminals in the state.